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Ten years ago these extraordinary objects started to appear on Ebay, coming into Beijing via Shi Li He Market, and being sold on by dealers, (who have always in my experience been meticulous in fulfilling orders). They were listed under ‘Hongshan Shui Jing’ as ‘cannulation tubes’, whatever that means! The longest such tube in my collection is 56 cm long. Some of these pictures were kindly taken for me by Steve Lawton. The most I paid for any tube was $30 on Ebay.







Note on the next one, the last piece has a square hole, and the last but one none. Note cicadas, a typical Hongshan icon


I believe the colour variation is due to adsorbed soil minerals, since it elutes with strong acid


The hole of the middle one is a hemicircle


And the left one is a hemicircle and two flat faces at right angles


Face lit up by reflection back from the flat inner surface. Magical!




Same distorted by outer carving


I was immediately struck by their beauty, craftsmanship and surface iconography - note for example the cow gods and zhulong. I soon came to realise that the holes down the centre were natural, not drilled. It is certainly possible that some of the large holes were reamed out, but always using existing natural holes as a guide, for example with a bamboo pull-through faced with impact diamonds. However you will note many of these pieces in which the holes are completely natural. Among the most interesting are two in which there are literally hundreds of small holes clustered together to look like a long straight cloud, and the carving has been done around them. Another has a tapering hole, and this is partially blocked by a piece that has fallen from the side under gravity while still molten. These could not possibly be modern or man-made glass: and remember they are pure SiO2 with a melting temperature over 1600 C.






Same piece


Effect caused by outer carving and distortion


multiple small holes


Cow god, one side of face lit up by multiple fine holes


Same piece from behind, and another with similar cloud of holes


Above two pieces viewed from the end


Zhulong, illuminated by light reflected back from the cloud of tiny holes, icon confirming Hongshan lineage


Note here, in addition to the central 'cloud cluster' there are other lens-like bubbles running parallel



Smaller tubes are also informative and can sometimes still be found on Ebay and in antique markets in China. I shall post on them separately.

My hypothesis is that a deep pool of liquid or semi-solid glass on the ground after ejection was struck by lightning, maybe during a massive electrical storm, vaporizing tracts of silica to plasma along the line of electrical discharge to earth. This would be analogous to fulgurite where crude tubes of fused silica are formed when lightning hits sand; but in this case the glass was already preformed when struck. Then, as the glass cooled slowly over the months and years, the tubes of Silica vapour and the glass around it contracted, creating many natural lines of cleavage (as is seen with cooling basalt). Finally when cool the tubes could be gently and expertly prized apart starting on the outside and working progressively inwards, and then techniques of turning and carving the glass were improved till it was fine enough for the Priest-King.

Finally, a big question. Does the fact that these pieces are so obviously original, and yet seem to be totally denied by the supposed expert guardians of the past, speak of a Culture that lies uncomfortably with the present? Such that it seems best for officials to appeal to their own authority and ignore it out of existence? It speaks to me of a people with a currency in art and an ethos and belief system completely different from the late warrior cultures up to and including today’s (which seem designed at all levels to concentrate power into the hands of empathy-deficient people with strong psychopathic tendencies!)

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Subject Views Written By Posted
The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 861 drdavidanderson 08-Feb-18 18:08
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 75 MDaines 09-Feb-18 11:28
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 65 drdavidanderson 09-Feb-18 15:24
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 76 michael seabrook 11-Feb-18 21:50
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 68 drdavidanderson 12-Feb-18 08:32
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 68 Apap 13-Feb-18 01:04
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 52 drdavidanderson 13-Feb-18 05:40
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 55 Apap 13-Feb-18 22:38
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 44 Wheeler 13-Feb-18 12:15
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 43 drdavidanderson 13-Feb-18 12:38
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 57 Wheeler 13-Feb-18 13:05
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 58 drdavidanderson 13-Feb-18 14:31
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 57 Wheeler 15-Feb-18 03:22
Tubes and ancient themes. . . 56 Reagent 15-Feb-18 07:02
. . . Forgot to ask . . 58 Reagent 15-Feb-18 07:59
Re: . . . Forgot to ask . . 47 drdavidanderson 15-Feb-18 08:16
Fine lathing technique??? 57 Reagent 15-Feb-18 08:43
Re: Fine lathing technique??? 51 drdavidanderson 15-Feb-18 08:58
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 51 Wheeler 15-Feb-18 11:12
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 53 drdavidanderson 15-Feb-18 11:25
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 51 Wheeler 15-Feb-18 11:44
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 81 jazzmumbles 15-Feb-18 13:01
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 45 Wheeler 19-Feb-18 02:23
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 57 drdavidanderson 19-Feb-18 13:55
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 40 Wheeler 20-Feb-18 20:19
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 39 drdavidanderson 20-Feb-18 18:27
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 45 Wheeler 20-Feb-18 20:24
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 40 drdavidanderson 20-Feb-18 21:21
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 40 Wheeler 20-Feb-18 21:44
Re: The amazing Hongshan Natural Glass Tubes 157 Wheeler 21-Feb-18 11:51


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